Along with the end of the $600 federal pandemic unemployment compensation benefit, Louisiana’s unemployed workers are being hit with another challenge this week—the return of work search requirements as of Sunday, August 9.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, during his Thursday press conference, said there are thousands of jobs in Louisiana.
“I understand there is some considerable anxiety out there because the extra $600 federal pandemic unemployment benefit has ended,” said Gov. Edwards, adding that the top payment for unemployment claims in Louisiana is $247. “People are not going to be able to live off that. It’s time to get those who can back to work. And that is what we are trying to do now through the work search requirement.”
The measure requires individuals filing for weekly benefits to list three job search contacts they have made during the previous week. The contacts can be by phone, online, fax, email or at a job fair, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s website.
There are exceptions to the requirement. Louisianans out of work and receiving unemployment because the have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do not have to search for a job. Additionally, those furloughed because the businesses they work for have been shutdown or restricted by the state’s response to coronavirus are also exempt.
There is another reason Gov. Edwards wants out-of-work residents to actively look for a job. The state’s unemployment system’s trust fund is approaching insolvency, he says.
The requirement has been suspended since March when state-wide restrictions to stem the spread of the virus were put in place. At that time, the state’s unemployment trust fund had $1.1 billion. Today, it has less than 25 percent of that amount, dwindling to about $270 million.
The system cannot continue that way, Edwards says, without getting help from the federal government and/or passing the costs along to Louisiana businesses through increased payroll taxes.
“Nobody wants to see employers pay more into that trust fund,” Edwards says.